Tag Archives: Alexander

12 and 13 March

I’ve been busy and am struggling to catch up! So two days today, with an Alexander from Aberdeenshire who became a successful merchant in London and Sunderland, a Hutcheon from Cruden who was a farm servant and cattleman, and my Fraser half great uncle who died aged 21 from tuberculosis.

13 March 1785
Baptism of William Alexander and Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, son of my gggggg uncle William Alexander and Isobel Galloway. William took himself off to England and did very well for himself. In 1810 he married Ann Guest, a ship-owner’s daughter, at Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland and they had three children born there before moving to Newington, London: they had two children baptised there in 1824, when they were living at Union Buildings, Kent Road and William was a merchant. In 1841 William is at Bishopwearmouth with his married daughter and son in law: his son in law was also a merchant and probably did business with William. William’s wife and two other daughters (his son seems to have died young) are at 7 Stepney Green, Tower Hamlets. In 1851 William is at 11 South Terrace, Kensington with 2 servants – his wife is with their widowed son in law at Ford Hall, Durham. William Alexander died in London in 1855 and was buried at Kensal Green.

12 March 1862
Baptism of James Davidson Hutcheon at Cruden, Aberdeenshire, son of my gggg uncle Keith Hutcheon and his second wife Ann McPherson. He is with his parents and siblings in 1871, in Cruden, his father a tailor and letter carrier and his mother a seamstress. In 1881 he is working as a farm servant at Mains of Waterton, Ellon, a farm of 300 acres. In 1885 he was working as a farm servant at Mains of Amrage, Ellon, when he married domestic servant Annie Fraser: she Midtown, Cruden with 2 children and in 1901 James is a cattleman at Wateridgemuir, Logie Buchan with no children but with a 4 year old boarder, which usually means they were looking after a relative’s orphaned child. His son is nearby working as a farm servant and his daighter is a domestic servant in Aberdeen. In 1911 Keith is still a cattleman and is living at Craighall, Ellon with wife Annie, the orphan from 1901 who is now an apprentice grocer, and a grandson who is the son of his daughter. His son has migrated to Canada. James Davidson Hutchison died in 1927, age 65, at Cruden.

13 March 1908
Birth of my half great uncle Alexander Fraser at Hatton Lodge, Aberdeenshire, son of William Fraser and his second wife Helen Ann Morgan. Alexander is with his parents and siblings at Hatton Lodge in 1911, though shortly afterwards the family moved to Mosside Croft, which William Fraser took over from when his father died. Alexander worked as a farm servant but died in July 1929, age 21, of tuberculosis, and is commemorated on the headstone at Cruden Kirk.

4 March

My Aberdeenshire great grandmother was born in the 4th and sadly died at 40 years old, leaving behind 5 young children. Also today, 2 Alexanders in Aberdeenshire, one I know very little about and the other who was had small farms in the parish of Rayne.

4 March 1741
Baptism of my gggggg aunt Helen Alexander at Westerhouses, Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, daughter of William Alexander and Ann Strachan (who is highly unlikely to be related to my Strachans of Ayrshire). Nothing further known so she may have died young.

4 March 1821
Baptism of William Alexander at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, son of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. He is with his parents in 1841 at Meikle Wartle, Rayne, his father a farmer, and married Isobel Brown at Rayne in 1849. In 1851 his father is described as formerly a farmer, and William is a farmer of 23 acres at Meikle Wartle, so it looks as though William took over his father’s tenancy. He and Isobel has a baby son in 1851 and also had a 3 year old described as a lodger and William’s 16 year old brother working as an agricultural labourer. William and his wife are still at the Meikle Wartle farm in 1861, with 4 children, the lodger from 1851 who is now described as nephew, and a female domestic servant. At some time in the 1860s William moved to a slightly larger farm at North Sunside, Rayne: in 1871 he and Isobel have their 2 youngest children at still at home and have a female domestic servant. They are at North Sunside in 1881, 1891 and 1901 and appear to have brought up their daughter’s illegitimate son. William Alexander died in 1914 and is buried at Rayne. There is a headstone in Rayne kirkyard which commemorates him, his wife and his two sons.

4 March 1863
Birth of my great grandmother Helen Hay at Ward Mill, Auchedley, Tarves, illegitimate daughter of George Hay and Helen Watt. Her mother was the daughter of a crofter and her father was the son of a neighbouring farmer. In both the 1871 and 1881 census Helen is with her maternal grandparents and it looks as if they brought her up, as her mother married and moved to Edinburgh. Helen married farm servant William Fraser in November 1889. They were married at Mosside croft, Hatton, but their wedding certificate gives Helen’s residence as Barrons Hotel (which is in Auchnagatt) and William’s residence as Mains of Elrick, a farm next to Barrons Hotel. In 1891 they are at Mains of Elrick and have a baby daughter. They then had 2 sons born at Aikenshill Farm in Foveran parish, and a daughter at Waterton in Ellon parish, and had moved to Mill of Brogan in Slains parish by 1901, where William was head cattleman. A daughter was born in 1901 at Mill of Brogan. Helen Fraser nee Hay died on 15 May 1903 at Mill of Brogan of chronic enteritis (most probably caused by a bacterial infection). She was 40 years old and left behind 5 children aged from 10 down to almost 2 years old. Most probably the children were initially looked after by their Fraser grandparents at Mosside.

12 January

A bit behind as I’ve been busy doing other things. Here’s the 12th: a ggggg grandfather from Aberdeenshire who was born 258 years ago, a Green from Yorkshire who was born and appears to have done nothing else, a Strachan from Ayrshire who retired to the USA, and a Watt from Aberdeenshire who led a typical farm servant’s life.

12 January 1756
Baptism of my ggggg grandfather James Alexander at Bourtie, Alexander, son of William Alexander of Westerhouses and Ann Strachan (no relation to my Ayrshire Strachan ancestors). His father was an elder of the Bourtie kirk session and died in 1763, and after that widow Ann ran the farm. William’s testament (probate for his will) shows he held substantial farm tenancies but had also borrowed heavily, so Ann was left with very little as the assets had to be sold to pay debts. James was their youngest child and only 7 years old when his father died, so he probably went off as a farm servant when in his early teens. He married Helen Burgess although no marriage record has survived, and their 5 children were baptised at Bourtie, James recorded as living in Kinguidy (aka King-goodie). There was also a John Alexander of Kinguidy having children baptised at the same time, who may have been his uncle. The memoirs of Dr William Alexander say that James’ elder brother William initially farmed Westerhouses with his mother, after the death of his father, but they fell out and when William left, younger brother James took his place – given the baptism records of James’s children this would have been after 1785. There is a memorial inscription at Bourtie for “James Alexander late farmer in Westerhouses he died June 30th 1794 aged 38 years” and includes his brother William and his sister Elizabeth, wife of John Slorach.

12 January 1840

Baptism of William Green at St Mary’s Barnsley, Yorkshire, son of my gggg uncle linen bleacher Joseph Green and Mary White. He is with his parent in the 1841 census but not the 1851 and no other reference to him has been found, so he may have died although no death record can be found either.

12 January 1854
Birth of Ann Miller Strachan at Crosshouse, Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, daughter of coal miner Samuel Strachan and Janet Mitchell and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Samuel Strachan and Ann Miller. She is with her parents at Stevenston in 1861 and 1871, and in the latter census is a bonnet knitter. In 1876, at Stevenston, she married a relation, John Strachan, who was the son of John Francis Strachan and Jane Johnston Loudon. In 1881 John is a railway stoker and he and Ann are living in New Ardrossan with their first child. John Strachan went to the USA and was in Braidwood, Illinois, with some of his Strachan relatives, but returned to Scotland. Ann and John are in Stevenston in 1891: John is a crane driver and they have 4 children. By 1901 they are back in New Ardossan, John working as a railway carriage inspector, and they have 5 children and a boarder with them. Then in their late 60s, in 1923, they went to the USA along with one of their unmarried daughters to join their son Robert, who lived in Cicero, Illinois. Ann crops up on a border crossing permit in 1925 when she went to Canada to visit her daughter-in-law in Windsor. Her husband John died in Cicero in 1926 and Ann died in 1928 age 73 at Berwyn, Illinois.

12 January 1855
Birth of my ggg uncle Francis Knox Watt at Tarves, son of James Watt and Margaret Symon. In 1864 he is with his parents in Tarves and in 1871 is at Bearfold, Ellon working as a farm servant. In 1876 he married Ann Annand at Cruden, and they are a Wester Aldie, Cruden in 1881 with 2 sons both born in Cruden. 1891 sees them at Old Mill of Shivas, Tarves which was Francis’s parents’ home: his father is in the Poorhouse and his mother is in Edinburgh with some of Francis’s siblings. Given the birth places of Francis’s children, he had been moving from farm to farm as a farm servant, as his children were born in Cruden, Peterhead, St Fergus and then Tarves. By 1901 Francis and his wife have returned to Cruden and are at Burnside of Braco, have had more children born at Crimond, Peterhead and Cruden, and Francis is now working as a road labourer. He died in 1939 age 84 at Hill of Braigie, Echt.

1 January

Gosh, this was a busy day! And my blog stats have shot up over the last week: holidays must mean more time for family historians to search the web. This morning (which is actually the 2nd, not the 1st) began with a phone call from an engineer to say they’d fixed my faulty phone and broadband line. Hooray!

The first day of the year was a very popular day for being baptised or born, and I suspect some of the dates I have as births could well have been baptisms. So there are ten people to write up today. There’s a Logan from Aberdeenshire I know little about; a ggg grandmother from Ayrshire; an Alexander from Chapel of Garioch in Aberdeenshire; a crofter ggg grandfather from Aberdeenshire who sadly ended up in the Poorhouse; a Strachan from Ayrshire descendant who married her Strachan cousin; a Richmond from Ayrshire with the middle name of Strachan who married a boiler maker; a Strachan descendant who moved to Glasgow and married a lithographic printer; a Green descendant who didn’t marry but was in service with quite well to do families; a Strachan descendant from Ayrshire who married … yes, you’ve guessed … a coal miner; and finally a Strachan descendant who seems to have lived in Kilmarnock all his life and was, of course, a coal miner.

1 January 1758
Baptism of my ggggg aunt Jean Logan at Old Deer, daughter of George Logan and Elizabeth Morice or Mories. I’m not sure what became of her. There is a marriage in 1787 at New Deer of Jean Logan and John Johnston which could be her, but nothing else found in the records.

1 January 1764
Baptism of my ggg grandmother Margaret Hunter at Stevenston, Ayrshire, daughter of John Hunter and Margaret Barr. She married Robert Haddow at Stevenston in 1786, and they had 8 children baptised at Stevenston. Her husband Robert Haddow (whose sister Margaret Haddow married Margaret brother Robert Hunter, which makes for confusion) died in 1814 and was buried at Stevenston. In the 1919 minister’s census of Stevenston, Widow Haddow is at Townhead with 4 of her children and her widowed sister Jean or Jane Harvie nee Hunter. Margaret is still at Townhead in 1822 with her sister, a son and two others who may have been lodgers. She must have died before the 1841 census.

1 January 1787
Birth of Helen Alexander who was baptised on 3 January at Chapel of Garioch, daughter of my gggggg uncle William Alexander and Isobel Galloway. She married William Walker, a farm servant, in 1818 and they had 5 children. In 1841 they are at Balquhine, Chapel of Garioch with their 2 youngest children, and in 1851 at Oldtown, Inverurie on their own. William Walker then died, and widow Helen is at Cranfourd, Daviot with her unmarried son John, who farmed 30 acres, and her unmarried daughter Isabella, a domestic servant, and Isabella’s illegitimate son. Helen Walker nee Alexander died in 1864 at Daviot.

1 January 1893 (born about 1819)
My ggg grandfather James Watt was born at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, in about 1819 – no baptism record found – and was the son of Peter Watt and Helen Alexander. In 1841 he is an ag lab lodging with, or working for, the Symon family at East Newseat Farm Croft. Shortly afterwards he married one of their daughters, Margaret Symon, but unfortunately the marriage records for Tarves for that period have gone missing. In 1851 James Watt is a crofter of 6 acres at Old Mill of Shivas with his wife Margaret, their 4 children, and 3 lodgers. They remained on the croft at Old Mill of Schivas and in 1861 had 3 children and James’ brother with them. In 1871 they had a daughter, a niece and a boarder with them, although the niece is actually their granddaughter Helen Hay, my great grandmother. They are still there in 1881: James is described as a farmer of 4.5 acres and they also have 3 grandchildren with them including Helen Hay who they seem to have brought up. Most of their children had moved to Edinburgh and there is evidence James and Margaret went there at least once, as James Watt was the informant when his married daughter’s husband George Duguid died in Edinburgh in 1877. Between 1881 and 1891, however, something happened to James Watt, and in the 1891 census he is an inmate at Maud Poorhouse at New Deer. His wife Margaret is in Edinburgh with her married son Peter – as the census is just a snapshot of one night it’s impossible to know whether she was living there or was just on a visit, though she wdied at the same address of Marchmont Crescent, Edinburgh in 1898. James Watt died at Maud Poorhouse in 1893 of enlargement of the heart. The mystery is why James Watt was in the Poorhouse when his wife was with their children in Edinburgh – his inmate status may have been due to physical or mental ill health rather than poverty.

1 January 1841
Birth of Lillias Clelland Findlay at Galston, Ayrshire, daughter of Susanna Strachan and David Findlay and granddaughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. She is with her parents and siblings at Bridge House Hill, Riccarton in 1841 and then her mother died. Her father remarried in 1849 and in 1851 the family are at Portland Row, Hurlford: it must have been crowded as there were 11 of them living there so it’s not surprising 10 year old Lillias was listed as “at home” and not at school – she would have been helping her stepmother. In 1860 Lillias married her cousin, coal miner Peter Strachan, son of her mother’s brother Peter. Their first 3 children were born in Hurlford but by 1871 they had moved to New Cumnock though they didn’t stay there long, and their next 4 children were born in Galston. They are at Goatfoot Row, Galston in 1881, and would have had several relatives as neighbours. They are at Standalone Street, Galston in 1891 and 1901 – by the latter census Peter Strachan was a retired coal miner and they had just their youngest 2 children at home. Theirs was a large family of 12 children, though 6 died when young. Lillias died at Newmilns, Ayrshire (just up the road from Galston) in 1913 at the age of 72.

1 January 1858
Birth of Mary Strachan Richmond at Kilwinning, daughter of my half ggg aunt Jean Pollock and John Richmond. Her mother Jean Pollack was born illegitimate to my ggg grandmother Jean Orr after the death of my ggg grandfather Joseph Haggerty. Mary was therefore half sister to my gg grandmother Margaret Haggerty who married Robert Strachan though Margaret died in 1846. Interesting that Mary was named Mary Strachan Richmond, showing a strong link between her parent and the family her half sister’s family had married into, though the connection could also have been through the Richmond side. There were, however, a lot of Mary Strachans so it’s difficult to tell who she was named after. Mary is with her family at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning in 1861 and many Strachan families also lived there. Her mother died in January 1871, and in the 1871 census Mary is at Hurlford with her coal miner father and the 2 remaining siblings who lived at home. Mary married James Adair in 1880 and in 1881 they are in Kilmarnock with a baby daughter, James a boiler maker. By 1891 James has been promoted to foreman but they still have just 1 daughter, plus a lodger. In 1901 they are still in Kilmarnock with their daughter. Mary Strachan Adair nee Richmond died age 78 in Kilmarnock in 1936.

1 January 1862
Birth of Agnes Wark at Irvine, Ayrshire, daughter of Catherine Mure Strachan and Charles Wark, and granddaughter of my ggg uncle Peter Strachan and Margaret Boyle. Her father was a baker, and by 1871 the family had moved to Glasgow and were living at Stewart Street. They are at Gayfield Street, Kelvin in 1881 and 19 year old Agnes is working as a machinist. She married George Whyllie in 1889 and they are at Mill Street, Glasgow in 1891 with a young son: George Whyllie was a lithographic printer. By 1901 they are in Bridgeton and have 2 sons.

1 January 1865
Baptism of Edith Wilson at Worsbrough, Yorkshire daughter of my ggg aunt Mary Green and Joseph Wilson. Her parents lived at Stanley, near Wakefield, where her father was gardener at Stanley Hall, and Edith is at Stanley Hall Cottage with her family in 1871. In 1881 she is with her paternal grandmother at Stanley Green. Edith went into service, and in 1891 is a housemaid for William Pickard of Wakefield and his wife: he was the registrar for deeds for the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1901 Edith is a domestic nurse in Wakefield in the household of John Henderson, a medical practitioner who employed 4 servants. She is still in Wakefield in 1911 as housekeeper for an unmarried doctor, and the other servant is Edith’s niece. After that I do not know: she didn’t die in Wakefield but there are several with her name and of her age who died elsewhere in Yorkshire and I’m not sure which one could be her.

1 January 1868
Birth of Marion Findlay at Loudon, Ayrshire, daughter of coal miner Hugh Findlay and Margaret Miller, granddaughter of Susanna Strachan and David Findlay, and great granddaughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. Marion is with her family at Loundonkirk Cottage in 1871, although on census night her father, by then a mining contractor, was in Edinburgh on what looks like a business trip. By 1881 the family had moved to Monkton and Prestwick and Marion’s father was a grocer, but by 1891 he was a colliery manager and the family were at 78 Kilmaurs Road, Kilmarnock with Marion working as a fruiterer’s shopwoman. Marion married coal miner Thomas Muir in 1892 at Kilmarnock, but in 1901 they are at Barrhill Rows, Kirkintillock, Dumbartonshire: Barrhill Rows has “new” written after it, so it looks as if Marion and Thomas had moved to a newly opened or enlarged mine and obtained brand new housing. (The iron foundry at Kirktillock of where the distinctive British post and phone boxes were made.) Marion Muir nee Findlay died at Galston in 1949, at age 81, so at some point she returned to very close to where she was born and does not appear to have had children, or at least none who survived.

1 January 1953 (born 1882)
Joseph Strachan Anderson was born at Hurlford, Ayrshire, the son of my great aunt Amelia Strachan and coal miner Robert Anderson. He is with his parents at Riccarton Road, Hurlford in 1891 and is at school. His mother died in childbirth in 1899, and in 1900 his father remarried. The family are at Academy Street, Hurlford in 1901 and Joseph, age 18, is a coal miner. He married Mary Jane McLean Kerr in 1903 and died in Kilmarnock in 1953 and age 70.

17 December

Three today: one is an Alexander from Aberdeenshire who became a blacksmith and another is a Green from my Yorkshire family but this one was born in London. Plus there’s blog follower Colin’s father who isn’t my blood relation, but his mother was a Fraser from Aberdeenshire, though not related – as far as I know – to my Frasers from Aberdeenshire.

17 December 1749
Birth of my gggggg uncle William Alexander at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, son of William Alexander and Ann Strachan. Ian Macdonald has researched him for his book ‘The Alexanders of Bourtie’ and says that William was 14 when his father died, and took over Westerhouses farm with his mother Ann. However, his belief in progressive farming techniques caused conflict with his mother, and he gave up his claim on the family farm in favour of a younger brother. Ann Alexander nee Strachan’s testement (will) makes it clear he was bought off for £30 in 1778. He then learnt blacksmithing and took himself to Aberdeen, then settled at Rescivit in Chapel of Garioch parish, and married Isobel Galloway of Daviot. He is mentioned on the family memorial at Bourtie as “William late Black Smith in Rescivet who died 4th Nov. 1806 in the 58th year of his age”. William and Isobel had 4 children, their son James being the father of the Aberdeen radical, newspaper editor and writer William Alexander.

17 December 1876
Baptism of George Percy Green at Marylebone, London, son of George Edwin Green and Sarah Maria Sampson and grandson of my gggg uncle Samuel Green and Mary. His father was a shopman of Alfred Street, Street. George died in 1883 at age 7 and his death was registered at Chelsea.

17 December 1897
Birth of William M Harper in Aberdeen who married by aunt Jeanie Haddow Strachan and was the father of my cousin Colin who follows this blog. Interestingly, his parents were John Harper and Ellen Fraser and, of course, my mother comes from an Aberdeenshire line of Frasers, so I felt compelled to do a bit of research. However, William Harper’s great grandfather was Robert Fraser of Banchory so is not related to my Frasers, although his great grandmother was born Elspet Imlay at Cruden, which is where my Frasers lived. Given that William Harper and Jeanie Strachan met and married in Canada, it’s still an amazing coincidence.

27 and 28 November

Three who either died very young or can’t be found, and one who moved around a great deal and was a police constable. I’m always amazed by the variety of occupations appearing on my family tree!

28 November 1798
Birth of Agnes Marshall at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire daughter of my ggg grandparents Robert Marshall and Agnes Logan. I can’t find anything else that looks like her in the records, so she may have died young. There’s a marriage in Kilmarnock in 1824 between an Agnes Marshall and Hugh Barclay, but they can be traced in the census and that Agnes wasn’t born in Ayrshire – though several trees on Ancestry have assumed she’s the 1798 Kilmarnock Agnes.

27 November 1806
Baptism of Alexander Hutcheon, son of Alexander Hutcheon and Agnes Bruce and therefore my gggg uncle at Longside, Aberdeenshire. They had another son named Alexander Hutcheon baptised on 25 November 1807, so the first son named Alexander must have died in infancy.

28 November 1849
Birth of William Gray at Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, son of George Gray and Jane Alexander and grandson of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. William was with his parents in Belhelvie in 1851 and then in Rayne in 1861. He can’t be found in the 1871 census, but in 1872 he married Mary Campbell Wheatley in Ardersier, near Inverness. He obviously moved around quite a bit, as during the 1870s they had children born in Ardersier, Strathblane down in Stirlingshire, then Dirleton and North Berwick near Haddington. But by 1881 they were back in Ardersier and William was a grocer. They then went on the move again and had children born in Broughton, Eddlestone and Walkerburn, all in Peebleshire, and in 1891 William is the police constable at Walkerburn, living at the Police Station, and he was still there in 1901. But his travels didn’t end with Walkerburn, as he died in 1920 at Kinghorn in Fifeshire.

28 November 1858
Birth of Susan Strachan Findlay in Riccarton, daughter of James Findlay and Mary Monroe Findlay, and great granddaughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. Susan died in January 1859 at less than 2 months old.

19 and 20 November

Nothing happened on the 19th. But for the 20th there’s a long lived Aberdeenshire gggg grandmother, an equally long lived Aberdeenshire ggg grandfather, and a relatively short lived Strachan from Ayrshire.

20 November 1785
Baptism of my gggg grandmother Helen Alexander at Bourtie, Aberdeenshire, daughter of James Alexander and Helen Burgess. Her father was a farmer, and in November 1805 she married agricultural labourer Peter Watt. Their first 3 children were baptised at Bourtie, then they had children baptised at Udny, Fintry, Chapel of Garioch and from 1818 at Rayne, where they remained. Most likely they were moving from farm to farm, as farm servants, until they took a small croft at Meikle Wartle in the parish of Rayne. The 1841 census has them at Meikle Wartle, with Peter Watt an ag lab and none of their 12 children remaining at home. They are there in 1851, Peter age 72 still an ag lab, and he and Helen have their daughter Jane with them, and Jane’s son illegitimate son George Smart. 1861 still finds them at Meikle Wartle, Peter Watt still an ag lab at 81, Helen having reached 75, daughter Jane, a stocking knitter, now with another illegtimate child, plus a new grandchild, offspring of their daughter Jessie. Both Peter and Helen were long lived as they’re in the 1871 census at Wartle, Peter finally retired at 91 and Helen is 85: with them is daughter Jessie, a knitter, and her daughter. Helen Watt ms Alexander died on 1 January 1872 at Wartle of senile debility, and the informant for her death certificate was a neighbour of School House, Rayne. Helen is commemorated on the memorial in Rayne kirkyard erected by her son William.

20 November 1793
Baptism of my ggg grandfather George Hay at Tarves, son of Alexander Hay and Margaret Daniel. In 1833 he married Mary Taylor at Old Deer, and in 1841 was farming East Shethin Farm, Tarves and employing 2 boys and a young woman. By 1851 George and Mary had 3 children surviving with a 10 year gap between the first and second, plus 2 male farm servants and a female: East Shethin was a 65 acre farm. 1861 sees them still with 3 children, the eldest now a ploughman, and they have a cattleman and a domestic servant in their employ, plus a grandson, the illegitimate son of their daughter. George Hay is 78 in the 1871 census, and his daughter and eldest son are still living with their parents, along with the grandson, and there is a male farm servant and a domestic. George Hay died at Tarves in 1879 age 85 and his son George took over the farm.

20 November 1818
Birth of Elizabeth Strachan in Riccarton, daughter of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. She married Andrew Muir in Kilmarnock in March 1836, who would have been a coal miner, given the places where they lived. I can’t find them in the 1841 census, but their first 2 children were born in Kilmaurs, then they had 3 children born in New Monkland, Lanarkshire before moving back to Ayrshire in about 1848, where their youngest child was born in Kilwinning. Andrew Muir then seems to have died either just before or just after the move to Ayrshire, as in 1851 Elizabeth Strachan is a widow at 5 Hagsthorn, Kilburnie, with 6 Muir children and a 1 month old baby named Robert Clark – plus a lodger also named Robert Clark, who is an ironstone miner and no doubt the father of the baby. There’s no marriage found for Elizabeth and Robert, but she had a son Thomas Clark in 1856 and on his birth certificate she is down as Elizabeth Clarke ms Strachan. Thomas was born on 19 October 1856 at Kilburnie, and Elizabeth died on 1 November 1856 of pthisis pulmanory (tuberculosis). On her death certificate is says she was married, and the informant was Robert Clark husband.

18 November

My great aunt Susan McCrae was born on this day: she married but then separated, and the birth certificate for one of her daughters is unusually detailed. There’s also an Aberdeenshire Alexander who died of typhoid fever.

18 November 1827
Baptism of Janet Alexander at Rayne, Aberdeenshire, daughter of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. Janet , sadly, didn’t have the most exciting life: she is with her parents on their small farm at Meikle Wartle in 1841 and 1851, earned her keep as a dressmaker, didn’t get married, and died in 1859 age 31 of typhoid fever.

18 November 1866
Birth of my great aunt Susan Bell McCrae in Kilmarnock, daughter of coal miner John McCrae and Mary Ann McInairney (or McInerney, though Mary Ann’s name is written as Marian McInally on Susan’s birth certificate). She was named for the Susan Bell who lived with John McCrae and his mother, and was possibly John’s half sister. In 1871 Susan is with her parents, siblings, her mother’s half sister and a lodger at 6 Dean Lane, Kilmarnock, and at 40 Mill Lane, Kilmarnock in 1881. By then she is 14 and working at the tobacco factory. She was a witness at her sister Agnes’s marriage in 1885, and then in 1889 Susan married John Boyle, a pit headman, at what was probably her parents’ home at John Dickie Street, Kilmarnock. Unfortunately they can’t be found in the 1891 census, but their son Andrew was born in 1892 at 7 High Church Lane, which was Susan’s parents’ home. Their daughter, who was given the wonderful name of Janet Sneddon Dunlevy Boyle, was born at 19 Low Glencairn Street, Kilmarnock in 1898, by which time John Boyle was working as a cab driver. Susan and John Boyle then separated, and in 1901 Susan is at 14 High Street, Kilmarnock with her children Andrew and Janet. Not long afterwards she moved to Glasgow where she lived with John Devine: in 1903 they had a daughter Ellen Devine and on her birth certificate it says her parents are “John Devine dyer and Susan McCrae, wife of John Boyle carter who she declares is not the father of the child and further that she had no personal communication with him since they agreed to reside separately 4 years ago.” I’ve not seen such detail on a birth certificate before, but it’s useful for a family historian! In 1911 they are at Levern Banks, Neilston, John Devine a dyer’s labourer, with 3 children plus Janet Boyle, Susan’s daughter. Susan died in 1942 at Duke Street, Glasgow, but with usual residence Abercromby Street. She was 75 and died of cardiac failure and pneumonia, and her death certificate describes her as Susan Devine formerly Boyle, widow of John Boyle cab driver.

9 November

Quite a few today, but it includes the sad story of Peter Strachan, killed at the age of 13 in a mining accident. Also an Alexander who had been researched by Ian Macdonald. Plus there’s a Morgan and a Green who died young, and a Haddow who disappears.

9 November 1807
Birth of Janet Morgan at Longside, daughter of my ggggg aunt Isobel Sangster and Peter Morgan. Nothing else found for her, and someone on Ancestry has a death date for her of 11 November 1809 but without a source given, so it’s possible she died in infancy.

9 November 1834
Baptism of George Alexander at Rayne, son of my ggggg uncle John Alexander and Janet Morrison. He has been written up in Ian Macdonald’s book about the Alexanders of Bourtie, who writes: “George (1834) was the last of the children. He made his way as a craftsman. At sixteen he was working on the land at home but by 1861 had served an apprenticeship and was now a carpenter in Old Meldrum. Beyond that he had also married and was living with his wife in two rooms, with a boarder, at North Road. In fact he was next door to carpenter master John Webster and had married the master’s daughter Helen Ann Webster. It looks as though their place had a change of name to Urquhart Road by 1871 as they were still in two rooms next to the master’s home but now with four children. By 1881 they had a separate place of their own with five of the now seven children at home and by 1891 there were still four of the final brood of nine living with them. George never left Old Meldrum dying there in 1909 aged seventy-five, with Helen outliving him to 1914. They ended up in Urquhart Road where they had started – rooted lives.” In 1901 George and Helen also had a grandson with them.

9 November 1834
Baptism of my gg aunt Alice Green at Worsbrough, Yorkshire, daughter of William Green and Sarah Firth. She is with her family in 1841 at Worsbrough Common, her father a linen bleacher and living two down from the Rose & Crown where her grandfather Joseph Green was publican. Alice died in 1851 at age 17.

9 November 1860 (born about 1848)
Peter Strachan died on 9 November 1860, at 12 years old, in a mining accident. We can know exactly what happened as it was written up in the Mining Accident Register. He was born in about 1847 at Riccarton, Ayrshire, son of Robert Strachan and Janet Ross Gilmour, and was the grandson of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. In 1951 he’s with his parents and siblings at Glaston Road, Hurlford (which was in Riccarton parish at that time) and his father become the coal pit manager of a pit at Ford Colliery.
The death certificate for young Peter died says:
Peter Strachan collier, 9 November 1860, in No.15 Pit Head, Ford Colliery, Riccarton Parish, age 13. Son of Robert Strachan coal pit manager and Janet Strachan ms Gilmour. Died from injuries received by falling down part of the shaft of said pit. Burial Ground of Riccarton. Informant Peter Strachan uncle.
The report in the mining accident register reads:
10 November 1860 at Hurlford, mine owned by Allan Gilmour & Co. Peter Strachan boy age 12 killed in shafts. Was thrown out of the cage by the engine raising it unexpectedly. The deceased was a young boy of about 12, son of the underground overman. He had not been forward at the pit to be lowered to his work with the rest of the workmen on the morning of the accident, and after the ‘clerk’ had commenced, he had got into an empty hutch on the cage to be lowered to the bottom. It was known to the engineman and others that the boy had gone into the cage in the ‘rise’ division of the shaft. An upper seam of coal is worked from this division, and when the cage is required to be rested at that level it is the practice to signal to the surface, and the person making the signal closes the ‘folding boards’ or ‘shuts’ for the cage to rest upon. A young lad of about 17 was engaged in this seam on the morning of the accident; he had signalled to the surface for the cage to be lowered to that level, and accordingly the engine man did stop the cage at that seam. The deceased was sitting in the hutch upon the cage but the cage was rested at the ‘mid-working’, according to the signals given, the lad stationed there commenced to take it off, and while he was in the act of doing so the engine man raised the cage, which first canted the hutch, and afterwards allowed it to pass under and down the shaft, a distance of 30 fathoms.

9 November 1870
Jane Jaffrey Haddow was born at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, daughter of my gg uncle coal miner Colin Shearer Haddow and Ann Orr Richmond. She’s with her family in 1871 at Kilwinning, then in 1881 the family are at Coylton, and Jane is at school. Her father died in 1885 but I cannot find Jane in the 1901 census – she’s not with her mother or any of her siblings that I can find. Several of her siblings also disappear after 1881 so I wonder if they migrated, but I haven’t found them on any passenger lists.

Famous ancestor: William Alexander – radical, newspaper editor and novelist

William Alexander b. 1826

Reading Ian Macdonald’s book about the Alexanders of Bourtie, I was delighted to discover I’m related to William Alexander, born 1826, who became editor or the Aberdeen Free Press, a notable radical campaigner, and the author of Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk, a novel about rural life written in the Doric dialect of the area and the time. Having done a bit of journalism in my time, and having written some short stories that have been published, and also having always been a bit of a radical, I feel very proud to know William Alexander and I share a genetic legacy.

William Alexander was born as Rescivet, Chapel of Garioch, son of a blacksmith who became a farmer. William went to school at Daviot and was intending to be a farmer, but lost a leg due to an accident. He wrote an essay on farm servants which won an essay writing competition, and as a result became a reporter for the North of Scotland Gazette. A year later he joined the Aberdeen Free Press, becoming sub-editor and then editor. The paper was very popular with farmers and farm servants. His journalist always espoused strong radical views, and he was a major supporter of the rights of tenant farmers. He became an elder of the Free Church, a director of the Royal Infirmary and served as a council member for the Aberdeen Philosophical Society. His novel Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk was first published as a serial in the Aberdeen Free Press.

He can be tracked in the census. In and 1841 and 1851 he’s a farmer’s son at Chapel of Garioch, working for his father, but by 1861 he is a newspaper reporter living in Charlotte Street, Aberdeen with his sister Helen as his housekeeper. He then married Ann Allan in Aberdeen in 1867, the daughter of a shipmaster, and they lived at 3 Belvidere Street, Aberdeen: if you find the house on Google Maps you can just make out his name on the plaque by the front door of the fairly modest and very typical Aberdeenshire two story granite terraced house. Living with him in 1891 was his wife Ann, a visitor and a female servant. William and Ann did not have children, and William Alexander died in Aberdeen in 1894.